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July 16, 2012

Do Working Moms Spoil Their Kids More?

Blog-working-mom-guiltI know I said I wasn’t going to judge any groups of moms for not being "Mom-Enough."  I know I praise all the work of multi-tasking multi-efficient working moms and dads. And I know I stand by it. So I will only talk from the experience of myself – and my working mom friends – who saw a lot of themselves in the recent New Yorker article on spoiled kids.

For quick clarification, I don’t think my sons are spoiled. They have responsibilities. They work hard to get good grades. But I do think that as a working parent, I look for their approval, sometimes more than they look for mine (which is exactly what the article states we do as we "spoil" our kids). During my time with them, I strive to make it fun and limit the whines any way that I can, even if it means doing something they should be doing themselves.

A colleague of mine agrees. She has Fridays off with her 4-year old who has recently stopped napping. Usually, his nanny encourages "quiet time" and "independent play" during the 2-3 hour stretch of time when his little sister sleeps and he doesn’t. But on Fridays, he only wants to be with his Mom. He wants to read with her, cook with her, garden with her. Whatever she’s doing, he wants to be at her side. And what can she say? I can tell you it’s not No. Mom Guilt is strong and Working Mom Guilt could be stronger. But does it lead to a more spoiled child? I don’t think so.

Spoiling our kids with time spent with us is not spoiling them. Especially if that time is spent learning from us, working hard by our side, being responsible people with us.

I think there is something to the fact that we working parents want to make our time with our kids more pleasant, so we spend less time being drill sergeants and more time being peace makers (no, not Hunger Games style!). At the same time, our parenting styles still come into play. I’ve told you I’m an "Honest Parent." This means that while my kids and I might be bonding over cooking together or hitting balls at a batting cage, I’m not giving false praise. I’m giving them real feedback on what they need to work on.

So spoiled, yes. They have nice things. And when I’m home, they have my attention and affection. Spoiled rotten? No. There is a difference.

The key is to look at your kids – no matter what age – and determine if you like what you see. Are they respectful? Do they have responsibilities? Do they care about doing a good job? Do they work hard without you pushing them? Do you interrupt them and do it yourself? Do you reward them even if they did a bad job?

Stay at home parents, working parents: we are all working hard to create well-balanced, smart, kind kids. And from my experience, no matter what your job is, the kids will respect you more if you are honest with them. They like you more if they have to earn your love. Even if no matter what, in your eyes, they are the best work you’ve ever done.


What do you think: Are your kids spoiled? Do you worry your kids won’t like you if you are too mean? Do you think working mom guilt causes a more spoiled child?

 

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Comments

Becky

I would like to say that the line "they like you more if they have to earn your love" is just ridiculous. I don't want my kids thinking that they have to do anything to earn my love. We love unconditionally and they know that no matter how upset I may be with something that my love for them comes before anything. I am a firm believer that staying at home with your children is very important. I myself am a stay at home mom and wouldn't have it any other way. Every working parent I know, does try to over compensate their time away from the home in other ways. Just stay at home and enjoy those precious years where your kids are young so you can enrich them and teach them and not have someone else do it for you. For the record, I do spoil my kids rotten.....with my love and my time.

April

As a nanny, I have seen many parents spoil their kiss rotten in order to try to make up for their absence. Unfortunately, kids don't want candy or more toys-- they just want their parents to spend time with then.

Jennifer

I thought this was an interesting blog and I appreciate the author's perspective. What I did not appreciate was the comment posted by Becky - "Every working parent I know, does try to over compensate their time away from the home in other ways. Just stay at home and enjoy those precious years where your kids are young so you can enrich them and teach them and not have someone else do it for you." In regards to the first comment, that is a huge generalization, and I am quite sure just not true. Second, not everyone has the financial means to be stay-at-home parents. I find it upsetting to hear such judgment from a fellow mom.

Sunny

I don't think the article states that working moms spoil their kids, rather, it was that generally, American parents spoil their kids. I'm a working mom and I'm certainly the disciplinarian, and the one who puts her foot down. I have disciplined my kids since they were a few months old, and although I am Asian and I was born the year of the tiger, I'm not a tiger mom either. My kids get a ton of unconditional love and appreciate the lines I've drawn for them. Generalizing working moms doesn't seem right, and the article in the NY Times doesn't state specifically that working moms spoil their kids but that American children are spoiled, thereby including all non working parents as well. The same NY contributing writer also wrote about Asian and Tiger Moms, and makes interesting points. Aside from that, the reason I sent my kids to early pre-school is because the moms in our neighborhood don't discipline their badly behaved kids who end up at the park and my toddlers picked up bad habits from. I nipped that issue in the butt real quick; took a week off work to go through the routine to figure out where it was coming from and I pointed out bad behavior to them. They understand and my kids immediately stopped. Kids are not dumb and should be treated like so, and if we are smart enough, we'll be able to communicate with them respectfully.

Angel

I am a working mom and I do spoil my children. However they are extremely well mannered. I admit I don't get to spend as much time with them as I'd like to but I am not fortunate enough to have a husband that makes enough money for me to stay at home with our children. I don't think that the people who criticize us moms who work should step back and take a look at the reasons why we are working in the first place. Most of us would rather be at home taking care of our children but circumstances require us to work to provide for our children such as food and shelter. I love my kids and my kids know I love them more than anything.

Single Dad

Not all of these articles should be related to only moms, let alone married moms. There are some of us working single dads (and single moms) that exist, where there isn't a mom (or dad) in the picture at all. Other than that, good article.

Kelly

Kudos to Sunny! You said it all!

I think that it is all balance. I am a working Mom because I HAVE to be. I would LOVE to be at home, but financially, it is not possible. I am the one with our medical benefits, my husband is a contractor. Even if we could make up for my income, we couldn't do that AND the medical coverage as well. I think it is very unkind and disappointing for someone lucky enough to be a SAHM to criticize working Moms. Walk in our shoes first and you'll see why we do what we do.

That said, there are many working Mom's and SAH Mom's who do not do the right thing by their children. And, in MY experience, I find that there are more SAHM's who are spoiling their kids and not disciplining them as they should. Many are busy on their cell phones, ipads, etc., and not even paying attention to the havoc that their children are causing. I might add, that my children too pick up nasty behavior from hanging out with other children who are not as well behaved as mine are and I find myself deprogramming them when they've spent a day with other less well behaved children.

My kids love me, I love them. They are kind, disciplined, responsible, loving, caring kids. I think that they would be just the same if I got to have the priveledge of staying home with them.

As far as this blog, I do completely disagree with the statement that kids will like you more if they have to earn your love. No kid should have to "earn love" from their Mother. I think that the correct statement would be to say that they will like you more if they have to "earn respect." They do that by behaving, being responsible, etc. Love is unconditional, not earned as far as children are concerned.

It's time that all Mothers treat each other with respect!

Heather

As a working, single mother I can appreciate this article to a certain extent. Granted when I have my days off, I truly try to utilize my time and spend it with my 10 yr old son. He always has suggestions of what he'd like to do on those days, theme parks or shopping for LEGO, and of course it never goes the way he'd like it to. I'm honest enough with him to say "Mom doesn't have the money to do those things, so let's figure out something else" When we come to an agreement (picnic at the park) we set a plan (time, place, what to do, and when we'll return) Once the activity is done, then he respects the time I need to dedicate to other household duties upon our return. If I request his help, he does it because he's a good kid that understands "compromise". We have dinner at the dinner table every night. He helps clear the table, feed the dog, and helps load the dishwasher. We have a wonderful relationship that he's rewarded when deserved. So if I'm considered a mom that spoils my kid with sacrificing my time to spend quality time together doing fun things and chores, then I'm guilty as charged.

Kelly

I am a divorced mother of three and a working mom. If I took Becky's advice and stayed home my family would be homeless and unstable. I agree with Sunny children are smart. I am also an honest Mom and my children know that my income is needed in our household. My kids are 5, 6, and 10. I am the one making sure homework is completed, correcting bad behavior, and explaining to them why I discipline them (even my 5 year old). We do spend a lot of time together on weekends and generally I am more relaxed during those times. I explain to them that during the week we work hard (their school/my work) and on the weekend we can relax and have fun. I am not always home for dinner and they know that I am working. I'll take some time to call and go through the day with each of them. I also agree that American children are spoiled (working/non-working Moms). I believe that it is well intentioned but misguided. A lot of us try to keep things from our kids that should be shared with them. Of course, making sure the explanation is age appropriate. We all appreciate the choice to make a well informed decision and children aren't any different. I have faith in the children of this era and believe that they can rise to the occasion without crutches to lean on.

Kamesh

I agree with most of the blog and some of the comments. But, not every mom works because she has to. I work because I choose to. There is more to me than being a mom. And, I resent the judgemental moms that have commented.

My children are extremely well behaved, well mannered, loving and responsible people. They help around the house, are independent and very respectful to everyone. They are allowed to watch tv only on weekends and during holidays, eat what is served, have a strict bed time routine and are top perrformers in school. They know my love is unconditional. They are also aware that I am their mom first and foremost, and their friend second.

I know a lot of children who are indisciplined, ill-behaved and disrepectful, whose moms are stay at home.

I echo the previous comment - it is time people learned to treat each other with respect. Children learn by example, and stay at home moms that disrepect working moms are not setting a good example.

Michelle

Kudos to Sunny and Kelly for their wonderful comments!

I agree that the article wasn't directed at working moms, or even just moms for that matter. It's more about how the parenting style in America in general has become all about making your child comfortable and being their friend instead of their parent. I see this behavior from kids raised by parents who range the gamut from single parents, to both parents working, to one parent working, and even kids who are raised by their grandparents! My husband and I both work, and for us and our child it's a much better fit. It really is a personal choice, and anyone who thinks that they are better parents than others because they have made the choice and/or have the luxury of being a stay at home mom obviously needs to rethink their definition of what a good parent it. We treat our child with the same respect that we expect from him. When he picks up bad habits from other children, we use it as a learning experience and explain to him why he shouldn't do it in a way he can understand. Sometimes it may take a week or so of repitition for the lesson to stick, but we remain diligent. He eventually gets it and returns to being a good boy who has learned a valuable life lesson. Being disrespectful and demanding is completely unacceptable, and is dealt with immediately. He is a really good kid, and it is our job to ensure that he is prepared to go out into the world and be a responsible respectful productive member of society. Too many parents allow their children to run wild with no rules or structure, because they want to be their friend. Our society has encouraged this parenting style (or lack there of), and it's hindering their growth as people. When more parents realize that you need to be your child's parent, their teacher, and their guide to help them make their own decisions on the tough life lessons, instead of ignoring them and showering them with a bunch of junk that they don't even want or need to try to earn their approval, we as a society will be a lot better off.

Courtenay

My post is in response to Becky's comment "Just stay at home and enjoy those precious years where your kids are young so you can enrich them and teach them and not have someone else do it for you" For the record, being a working mom is not always a choice.
Not everyone is able, financially, to stay home with their kids. On your part, that comment was quite thoughtless.

Mommy WARS are Stupid

I hate articles like this. Please don't write them and or respond to them. Stop questioning your decisions. THere is no fantastic balance to be had between working outside the home or not. Stay at homes are not saints work outside the homes are martyrs. There is no perfect way to raise children. STOP IT!!!!!!!!!!

Cindy

Yes, Becky's comment "just stay at home" is ridiculous. I agree many women do not have a choice for financial reasons. In my case, I am a surgeon and if I were to stay at home for a few years, I would lose my hard-earned skills.

Becky reminds me of Tina Fey's experience when she went back to work. (I paraphrase): A woman said "Oh, you went back to work? I just couldn't because I love my baby too much!" It was the only way this woman could feel superior to someone who is truly accomplished.

Angela

Thank you to "mommy wars." Good point. I am tired of such articles.
All these articles do is initiate finger-pointing & blame. Women & parents would be better off supporting each other rather than ridiculing one parenting style or another. Kids are smart & are the real victims here from such bickering.

Reshea

I definitely struggle with this. I'm a 1st time mom and my daughter is only 6 months old, but I feel like since I work 9 hours a day, that she is going to forget who I am or not be as attached to me as she is to my husband or her grandmothers who watch her.
When I AM home, I want to spend time with her and play with her and though she doesn't quite understand the word "NO" yet, I am afraid that she will learn and resent me for it. However, I also know that it is important for her to learn the difference between right and wrong. I don't think I spoil my daughter, though anymore than the average baby gets spoiled (they don't even wipe their own butts!) At the end of the day, I am proud to be a working mom because not only do I provide the love and care that my daughter needs, I also provide the food and the home and the clothes.

I have so much respect for all moms that are there for their children, but I hope that stay at home moms and others dohn't make assumptions about our parenting skills.

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